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A book of emblems

More madness from the shelves at Chetham’s Library, this week in the form of these delightful engravings from Francis Quarle’s Emblems. The idea is to represent Christian truths using verse and imagery but to the twenty-first century eye it is not always crystal clear exactly what is going on. We especially liked the apparently random inclusion of various regional towns and villages in the image above, probably places known to Quarle himself.

Below, a rather strange game of tennis seems to have ended badly…

An unusual game of celestial bar billiards is taking place in this plate…

Some of the images are simply to be enjoyed for their composition and quality of line…

Still confused? Perhaps the concept of the emblem is best expressed by Quarle himself in his note to the reader:

“An embleme is but a silent Parable. Let not the tender Eye check, to see the allusion to our blessed Saviour figued in these Types. In holy Scripture, he is sometimes called a Sower; sometimes, a Fisher; sometimes a Physician: And why not presented so as well to the eye as to the ear? Before the knowledge of letters God was known by Hieroglyphicks: And indeed, what are the Heavens, the Earth, nay every Creature, but Hieroglyphicks and Emblemes of His Glory? I have no more to say, I wish thee as much pleasure in the reading, as I had in writing. Farewel Reader.”

As usual, please click on any of the images to see a larger size.

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